If you're reading this, chances are you've already decided to join in on the plant-crazed trend. Whether it's a single succulent or an entire greenhouse of exotic foliage, plants have been popping up everywhere lately! And rightly so - caring for your own green friends can bring many benefits.
It’s easy to understand why everyone’s raving about plants: they clean the air, purify water, improve your health and mood, and make a great addition to any home décor. Plus, caring for plants can provide you with a sense of accomplishment!
But taking care of your greenery does require some effort. That's why we’ve put together this guide - to give you all the tips and tricks you need to make sure your plants are healthy and thriving. From proper watering schedules to using the right soil, you'll find everything here to get started. So let's dive in!
Light and Temperature
Light and temperature are two of the most important elements for growing healthy plants. In short, when it comes to light, some plants need lots (like ferns, begonias) while others prefer less (like succulents). As far as temperature goes, tropical varieties tend to enjoy the warmth while desert species thrive in cooler areas.
No matter what type of plants you have, it’s important to make sure the light and temperature are just right. Too much or too little of either can cause your plants to become weak and stressed out. To provide the best environment for your greenery, keep an eye on both factors - especially if you live in a climate that changes drastically throughout the year (Chiang et al., 2020).
Watering plants is a tricky topic because every plant is different. While some may require daily watering, others need to be watered just once a week. To make sure you’re doing it right, here are a few tips:
- Use the “soak and dry method” - water your plants until they’re completely saturated and let them dry out before watering again.
- For cacti, use a spray bottle to mist the soil lightly instead of pouring water directly on them.
- For tropicals, water until the soil is moist but not soggy.
- Avoid over-watering, which can cause root rot and other problems.
- Test the soil with your finger before watering to make sure it’s dry enough.
Soil and Fertilizer
Choosing the right soil and fertilizer for your plants is essential for their growth and development. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure the soil is light, well-draining, and nutrient-rich.
- For tropicals, use loose and well-draining soil high in organic matters.
- For cacti and succulents, use porous, fast-draining soil with added organic matter. Lava rock is also great for these plants (Gdaniec & Grace, 2018).
- For fertilizing, use an organic fertilizer with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Look for a 3-1-2 ratio, which is considered ideal.
- Don’t forget to check the pH of your soil - most plants prefer a neutral range of 6.5 - 7.5. This range is generally good for root growth.
Pruning and Repotting
Proper pruning and repotting are essential for keeping your plants healthy and lush. Pruning helps promote new growth and keeps the plant looking its best, while repotting ensures that it has enough room to grow. Here’s a general guide on how to do both:
- When pruning, always use clean, sharp pruners and cut back old or dead growth. The best practice is to trim less of the plants but do it more regularly.
- For repotting, select a pot that’s slightly larger than the current one - around 2-4 inches larger in diameter for fast growers and 1-2 incher larger for slow growers. Always check for any root damage before repotting. Next, add fresh soil to the new pot, place the plant, and water until completely saturated.
- Don’t forget to add a layer of mulch on top. Mulch helps retain moisture and encourages new root growth.
Pest and Disease Control
To prevent pests and diseases from occurring, it’s important to know how to identify and control them. Here are some tips for keeping your plants safe:
- Look for signs of infestation, such as yellowing leaves, discoloration, or wilting.
- Use natural remedies like neem oil or insecticidal soap to help control pest populations.
- If necessary, use chemical pesticides; but be sure to read the label for safety instructions first.
- For diseases such as root rot or powdery mildew, use fungicides and treat the affected area immediately.
Common Problems and Solutions
Here are a few common problems and solutions you should be aware of:
- Over-watering, root rot, and fungal diseases can all be prevented by following proper watering schedules and using light, well-draining soil.
- Pests can be controlled with a chemical-free solution like insecticidal soap or neem oil.
- A lack of nutrients can cause yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and other issues. Use organic fertilizer to provide your plants with the right amount of nourishment.
- Too much light can cause leaves to become dry and brittle. Move the plant to a shadier area or use sheer curtains to filter out the sun’s rays.
Growing plants can be a rewarding and fulfilling activity, but it’s important to remember that keeping them healthy requires patience, dedication, and attention to detail. Following these tips and tricks will help ensure that your plants stay in tip-top shape! Good luck, green thumbs!
Chiang, C., Bankestad, D., Hoch, G. (2020). Reaching natural growth: The significance of light and temperature fluctuations in plant performance in indoor growth facilities. Plants (Basel). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7600060/
Gdaniec, A. & Grace, O.M. (2018). Curator's notes on growing cacti part 1: Soils & containers. Cactus and Succulent Journal. DOI:10.2985/015.090.0307
Hall, C. & Knuth, M. (2019). An update of the literature supporting the well-being benefits of plants: A review of the emotional and mental health benefits of plants. Journal of Environmental Horticulture. DOI: https://doi.org/10.24266/0738-2898-37.1.30
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